Following No. 3 Georgia’s 44-21 victory over No. 14 Tennessee in the third game of the season, The Red & Black graded each position group’s performance.
Georgia starting quarterback Stetson Bennett didn’t let a botched-snap touchdown in Georgia’s opening drive rattle him. Down 7-0 from the get-go, Bennett accumulated 128 yards in the first half on 60% passing. His short throws were consistently on the mark although he failed to connect on several early deep balls. Unable to stir an explosive pass attack, Bennett got it done on the ground instead, executing two consecutive strong runs in the second quarter for a third down conversion and a touchdown, respectively. Bennett’s second half performance was sluggish. He couldn’t capitalize on back-to-back Tennessee turnovers, which yielded two field goals, but he activated after completing his first second-half throw late in the third quarter. Keeping the momentum, Bennett led a pass-first drive that culminated in his first of two second-half touchdown passes. He finished with 238 passing yards and three total scores. — William Newlin
Georgia’s rushers carried a heavy load on Saturday, finishing with 193 yards and two touchdowns on 50 attempts. Not including Bennett and wide receiver Jermaine Burton’s production, Georgia’s running backs combined for 128 yards. The Bulldogs were limited to short, tough runs as the Tennessee defensive front was able to stop any chunk plays. Without James Cook due to injury and with Zamir White’s inability to get any room through the middle, Georgia’s leading rusher on the night was Kendall Milton. The freshman finished with 56 yards on eight rushes. White carried the ball 22 times but only had 50 yards to show for it. Three rushes came in the final drive of the first half where he was stuffed at the goal line every time. Kenny McIntosh provided a nice change of pace, rushing the ball eight times for 45 yards and also catching two passes for 36 yards. — Andy Walsh
Bennett connected with nine different targets in the game, including two big gains with graduate transfer tight end Tre’ McKitty and a 33-yard completion to redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson late in the third quarter. With 50 rush attempts to 27 passes, Georgia’s passing game wasn’t as dynamic as it was against Auburn. Only a few times did Bennett string together a strong push through the air, most notably in Georgia’s final drive of the first half. He found McKitty for 28 yards and followed it with an 11-yard screen to Jermaine Burton that gave the Bulldogs an ultimately wasted scoring opportunity. Georgia’s receivers were more active late in the second half, especially Jackson, who again led Georgia with 91 yards and hauled in his first career touchdown reception. — William Newlin
It’d be an understatement to say Georgia’s offensive line stumbled out of the gate. On the second play of the game, center Trey Hill hurled a snap well over Bennett’s head and after a few clumsy attempts to pick up the ball as it rolled into the end zone, Tennessee scored a touchdown not even a minute into the game. The O-line improved after the decisive mistake but still struggled to handle the Volunteer defensive front. Standout linebacker Henry To’o To’o and company broke up multiple attempted runs and put pressure on Bennett. The Bulldogs finished with 193 rushing yards on 50 attempts, good for an uncharacteristic 3.9 yards per carry. The Georgia O-line also allowed one sack and five tackles for loss. — Andy Walsh
Tennessee’s top offensive asset heading into Saturday was its run game, which averaged 182.5 yards and three touchdowns through Weeks 1 and 2. Up against Georgia’s stout front seven, the Vols struggled to get anything going on the ground. Through the first half, Tennessee posted just 19 rushing yards, including 7 from quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. Georgia’s pass rush was effective as well, although Georgia’s front couldn’t interrupt Guarantano’s two first-half touchdown throws from inside the pocket. Linebackers Quay Walker, Azeez Ojulari and Monty Rice constantly pressured Guarantano and Tennessee’s offensive tackles, and the linebacker corps forced three fumbles, including Rice’s strip and score in the fourth quarter. Tennessee turned the ball over four times in the second half, finishing the game with minus-1 total rushing yards and zero rushing touchdowns. — William Newlin
Georgia’s secondary came into Saturday riding a convincing performance against Auburn star wide receivers Anthony Schwartz and Seth Williams. However, the secondary seemed to regress in its first half showing against Tennessee. 6-foot-2 Josh Palmer exploited DJ Daniel and Tyson Campbell on two impressive touchdown grabs in the second quarter. After the halftime break, the Bulldogs defensive backfield looked rejuvenated. Eric Stokes jumped a route early in the second half to intercept Jarrett Guarantano and set up Georgia in favorable field position. The rest of the secondary followed suit, and Guarantano finished with 215 yards passing after recording 124 yards in the first half. — Andy Walsh
Georgia’s special teams weren't flashy against Tennessee but kept mistakes to a minimum. Highlights of the game were Kenny McIntosh’s 43-yard kick return to set up a promising drive at the end of the first half and redshirt sophomore Jack Podlesny’s 3-for-3 field goal showing. Junior punter Jake Camarda improved on his NCAA-leading 50.2-yard average with two punts for 113 yards, including a 64-yard bomb at the end of the third quarter. — William Newlin